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Miranda McLaughlin: Former Operations Manager Speaks on Union Productions and Club Downunder

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Name: Miranda McLaughlin

Year: Alumnus (graduated Summer 2016)

Hometown: West Palm Beach

Relationship Status: In a relationship

Majors: Media Communication Studies & Creative Writing

Courtesy: Miranda McLaughlin


Her Campus (HC): I understand that you were the Operations Manager at Union Productions. Tell me, how did you first get involved with Union Productions?

Miranda McLaughlin (MM): I started out as a sound production volunteer during my sophomore year, then I was a production staff member, and then I became the Operations Manager my senior year. My sister actually worked here first, and when I came to FSU she thought I’d like it because I was such a fan of music. So I interviewed for all of the positions, but I really wanted to be in productions because the aspects of that seemed cool and I wanted to learn about how it’s run. And I did, and it’s great! That’s how I got started, anyway.

HC: What all did your job consist of on a weekly basis? What were some of the pros and cons of working there?

MM: Focusing on the Operations Manager aspect (since that was my largest role in the organization), my job was to oversee all four of Union Productions’ departments—production, programming, hospitality, and PR. So as Operations Manager, I had to oversee everything to make sure it was all running smoothly. My main responsibility was to schedule everyone for our shows and to ensure our events were staffed and all. I also led our executive board meetings, made up of the heads of all the departments as well as our full-time staff advisors—the actual, real adults; not students—and made sure the meetings all went well.

HC: Wow, that’s quite a big job!

MM: It was! I was also an Event Manager, which was cool. We had four of them, and my job with that was making sure that events themselves ran smoothly—not just planning them out. I had to make sure our performers knew where Club Downunder was, that they got there on time, and that they had everything they needed. So really just making sure the event went as planned and being in charge of the events themselves, which I think was my favorite part of working there. It was just such hands-on experience and really fast-paced.

HC: If that was the best part, what was the worst part of working there?

MM: I don’t even know. See, I loved this job so much, I can’t even think of if there was a worst part. The most challenging aspect, though, was balancing work and life because I was so dedicated to the job. But honestly, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Working at Union Productions was the best experience of my college career, hands-down.

HC: What was your favorite part of working as Operations Manager?

MM: Making sure our patrons were happy was a really big part of my job, so managing a show or concert was my favorite just because I love music, and a lot of my favorite acts have actually come to Club Downunder. But you know, seeing everyone dancing and singing and having an awesome experience at such an intimate venue; to witness these people get up close to their favorite artists was amazing.   

And then my favorite moment with my staff was when we went on our retreat to PCB, which I was also totally in charge of planning. We did this icebreaker where we wrote down three things that meant the most to us about our lives and then shared the one that was the utmost important. It was such a beautiful, personal experience. We did it on the beach at sunset and it was so much cooler than just “Hey my name is this, blah-blah-blah.” Instead it was “Hey, this is really important to me; this sort of makes me who I am.”

HC: You mentioned some of your favorite acts have come through. Who was the coolest one you got to meet?

MM: I don’t know. That’s a cool aspect about working at Union Productions because you meet so many celebrities at Club Downunder that it sort of demystifies it for you, and you have to be really professional anyway. It’s not like you can fangirl over anyone you meet. I would say probably the nicest people that I’ve worked with were Sylvan Esso. The pair of them—a girl and a guy—were just the sweetest people and so appreciative and acted like we gave them so much. They were awesome and not only put on a fabulous performance, but were also genuinely nice people.

Courtesy: Miranda McLaughlin


HC: How would you say Union Productions fits into FSU’s community?

MM: I would say that FSU is such a diverse university, and there’s so many cool things happening all the time. I feel like Union Productions/Club Downunder is the hidden gem of Florida State University because we put on awesome, magical shows as a way to get students out there to meet new people. I’ve made some of my best friends there, and not just from working with the organization. It’s the kind of place where you go to a show or event and you can talk to your neighbors, knowing that you’ll have common interests. What is better than that? I don’t know, nothing. I love Club Downunder and Union Productions!

HC: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Union Productions or Club Downunder?

MM: Yeah—everyone should go there immediately, all the time. All the shows are free at Club Downunder, which is awesome because you usually have to pay for those shows. Like, why would you not go? That’s my opinion. But check it out. Not just the concerts—I think that’s what we’re primarily known for—but they also put on really awesome daytime and special events like Haunted Harvest or Winter Wonderland. There’s always stuff going on that you can keep up with if you follow them on Instagram; Instagram’s my favorite social media. Follow me @fartstipated. But yeah, it’s one of my favorite places on Earth and it’s such a comforting, safe space.

HC: I know Club Downunder wasn’t all that your life consisted of at FSU. Tell me, what was your overall experience at FSU like? How did you choose this university to begin with?

MM: Well my sister came here, like I said, and by the time I was in high school, I was all over the place. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but FSU seemed really nice. The campus was beautiful when I went to go see it, and I was like, “Okay, I could really see myself here.” I loved it. Union Productions was a huge part of my college experience, but FSU as a whole is awesome. I got a great education there. It’s a very inspiring university; I think that’s why I still hang around and work there. It’s a unique, cool place with a beautiful, beautiful campus.

HC: What’re you up to now that you’ve graduated?

MM: My biggest accomplishment post-grad was that I released my EP titled “Mandatory Party.” You should go check it out. I put a ton of work into it. I actually recorded it in Club Downunder after hours, which was a very special experience for me. Otherwise, I’m currently working at the FSU Assessment and Testing Center. Working full time, living that life, another day another dollar—you know. But I’m just trying to enjoy my life and experience…well, life!

HC: Are there any final words you’d like to add about your experience as a Seminole, or any advice to give to FSU’s collegiettes?

MM: Go ‘Noles, man! Being a Seminole is cool. We have great colors that are flattering on everyone, and I encourage everyone to value their college experience. The fact that we all have gotten the opportunity to go to college is amazing. Don’t take it for granted because there are so many people who would like to be in our shoes. That’s what I try to remind myself of all the time, even when we’re like “Oh I’m just living in Tallahassee.” You should be grateful because life is amazing and happiness is underrated.

Courtesy: Miranda McLaughlin

Her Campus at Florida State University.